The University of Southampton

Advanced Solid-State Lasers

Following recent advances in diode laser pump technology and optical fibre technology, it is now possible to pump fibre lasers and solid-state lasers with both very high power and very high intensity. This relatively new regime of operation has opened up a wealth of new possibilities including the opportunity to study some new and interesting aspects of laser physics, and to develop some novel, high-power solid-state and fibre sources with important applications potential. 

The Advanced Solid-State Sources group currently has vacancies for new students in the following research areas:

Group webpage

Projects:

Two-micron fibre lasers for medical applications and organic materials processing

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson
Co-supervisor: Dr Peter Shardlow

Two-micron fibre laser technology has the potential to yield a wealth of new applications in areas such as industrial laser processing, medicine, defence and optical communications. Moreover, significant power scaling advantages can be gained by moving from traditional ytterbium-doped fibre lasers operating in the one-micron band to the two-micron band. The main focus of this project will be to create a world leading power-scalable two-micron fibre laser platform based on thulium doped fibres for operation in continuous-wave and long-pulsed regimes. The research programme will study the physics of thulium doped fibre gain media to formulate new strategies for scaling laser output power whilst simultaneously achieving high efficiency and good beam quality. Thulium doped glasses offer access to a wide range of wavelengths in the two-micron band, so an important aspect of the programme will be to develop lasers with flexibility in operating wavelength driven by the needs of emerging applications in areas such as medicine and materials processing. 

The project will involve a detailed study into the physics of two-micron fibre lasers operated at high average power levels to establish a power scaling strategy and the fundamental limits. This research will be supported by an EPSRC CASE Studentship and as such will involve close collaboration with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fibre lasers (SPI Lasers based in the UK).  The studentship comes with a stipend (including an additional industrial bursary) of £21,000 p.a. (tax-free) and with fees paid. Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline. Further information can be obtained from Professor Andy Clarkson at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton.

Hollow beam lasers and laser processing using ultrafast nanostructured optical components

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson
Co-supervisors: Dr Peter Shardlow and Professor Peter Kazansky

Laser modes with a doughnut-shaped beam profile can have many unique properties, including axially-symmetric polarisation (azimuthal or radial) or orbital angular momentum. As a result, these beams have found use in a diverse range of applications from ‘laser tweezers’ to laser processing of materials. In spite of their attractive properties, generating these beams with the required purity and at high power levels is very challenging.  This project will explore novel approaches for generating hollow laser beams and other types of exotic beams directly in in fibre lasers and solid-state lasers using nanostructured optical materials. Ultrafast nanostructuring of optical materials is the technology at the heart of 5D optical memory and recent advances in ultrafast writing techniques have allowed the development of very low loss beam transforming components. This project will investigate their use in a laser resonator for the purpose of generating custom laser beams with properties tailored for a range of scientific and industrial applications. The project will study ultrafast nanostructuring of materials to fabricate novel beam transforming components together with their use for generating exotic laser beams. Particular emphasis will be directed pulsed mode of laser operation, and the generation of high peak powers and high pulse energies where there is a wealth of exciting applications. The project will then explore the potential benefits that these sources can yield in a range of different laser processing applications using our in-house laser processing facility.

This research will be supported by an EPSRC Studentship and comes with a stipend of £18,000 p.a. (tax-free) and with fees paid. Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline. Further information can be obtained from Professor Andy Clarkson at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton.

 

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